Pappinbarra bush fires: Heather Smith speaks of lessons learned

RELIEVED THAT HER HOME WAS SAVED: Heather Smith in the garden of her home on the Pappinbarra Road near where the bush fires broke out a year ago.
RELIEVED THAT HER HOME WAS SAVED: Heather Smith in the garden of her home on the Pappinbarra Road near where the bush fires broke out a year ago.

Heather Smith feels very fortunate that she and her husband and children still have their home.  It’s very close to where the catastrophic bush fires broke out a year ago in Pappinbarra.

She and her husband had been away in Canberra at the weekend, and were driving home when they realised the fire was near their house.  A neighbour phoned and said two houses beside them were destroyed and theirs might be next.

Firefighters used Heather and Harvey’s home as a base and took water from their dam and the couple are very grateful to them.

“We had very little sleep that night, and it was a huge relief the next day to find our house was okay,” she said.  Their pigs, chickens and dog, Poppy all survived too. 

You cannot say a bush fire won’t happen to you. They can happen to anyone.

Heather Smith, Rebuild Pappinbarra

So what lessons have been learned by the people in the valley?

“You cannot say a bush fire won’t happen to you.  They can happen to anyone.

“You need to make your house as safe as you can make it.  We had cleared space around our house.  Everyone needs to keep track of what’s growing near your house.

“You also need to think: can fire trucks in to your property easily and can they turn around?

“One positive thing is that people have started to put up signs for static water.  Things are changing for the better,” said Heather, who has done a great deal of work with Rebuild Pappinbarra to help the three families who lost their homes, and many other whose properties were damaged.

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